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Traveling, living, loving, exploring and trying to make some semblance of sense out of this crazy world.  


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Divine Tragedy

Well, after looking over Ben Carson's page, I finally found someone who makes Trump look slightly rational.

(Really can't believe I said that, but if it quacks like a duck...)

I guess a lot of Americans, many of them Christians, will be deciding between leaving families behind to fight for freedom, or moving to Mexico, Canada or some other country which is still free if, by some miracle, he gets elected and decides to spark a Civil War by disregarding the will of the citizens of Colorado, Washington, Oregon and the District of Columbia, escalating the War on Drugs while taking on the Jihad (also known, in military terms, as fighting a war on two fronts).

I wish I were just being cynical, but that forty-five minutes of reading truly, deeply frightened me.

People have apparently forgotten how easily a leader claiming to listen to God's will becomes a leader claiming that all his opponents are the enemies of God, and that the American Revolution was a struggle not against a Caliphate, but a Christian empire led by Divine Right.

And Ben has apparently forgotten that, in the coming conflict, the militias will be veterans of both Gulf Wars and Afghanistan armed with the same weapons as his own troops, not simple farmers or mountaineers armed with black powder.

See you all down on Lexington Green.

Election 2016

Here’s where I stand on some of the issues being tossed around in this campaign;

It should be legal to possess, grow and consume the products of cannabis within the same regulatory and tax structure as alcohol and tobacco. Hemp should be legal to grow in all 50 states, just like corn or tomatoes.

We don't need anyone who wants to continue to spend billions to actually increase drug use, potency and availability by supporting the failed War on Responsible Adults, Veterans, Seniors and Children with Seizures for Pharmaceutical and Private Prison Profits, aka the War on Drugs. 

(There are peer-reviewed studies that show cannabis use does not lower IQ; ever heard of Gates, Jobs, or Sagan?) 

Cannabis is not a gateway to anything except the snack aisle, Cheech and Chong movie marathons, and poor fashion choices. If you’re stupid enough to believe in the gateway theory, remember that every heroin addict who ever lived had mother’s milk or formula before they touched anything else. 

(Alcohol and pain meds, on the other hand, lead to rape, domestic abuse, shootings, car crashes, and soaring health care costs, and they kill more people every single day than cannabis has in all of recorded history.) 

If Congress, the Supreme Court, and the President decide to continue the Drug War, then they should be routinely drug tested before every decision, vote, veto, and Executive Order. 

Any politician voting to go to war should be on the front line of the first engagement, beside their children over the age of 18. 

Every dollar spent on the military and climate change should be matched by a dollar spent on space exploration and colonization.

Police departments should not receive private grants or funding, except for retirement, health care costs and funeral expenses

If our police want military weapons and armor to play with, then they need to start taking on meth dealers and manufacturers, MS13, the Russian Mafia, and human traffickers. 

(You know; really bad people with guns and body armor who actually hurt their communities?) 

Any LEO who shoots an unarmed civilian is guilty of murder, period. Every on-duty police officer should be wearing a body camera, both for their own defense in a court of law, as well as to prevent distortion of the facts on either side of the issue. 

Canines are not cops, and shooting one is not killing an officer of the law; it is destruction of police property, and you should be liable for reparation of those costs. Otherwise, police officers should face manslaughter charges for shooting family pets during a raid. 

Pointing a gun or screaming obscenities at a minor child during a raid or police incident should cost you your badge and earn you an assault with intent charge, as well as removing your eligibility for employment by any police department anywhere, in the future. 

If you want to buy a gun from anyone, anywhere, at any time, you will undergo a background check. If you are ever committed or treated for mental health issues, you lose your right to keep and bear arms until a doctor declares you fit to do so. If you commit a crime with a firearm after that, the doctor in question loses their license and is subject to the same punishment you receive. 

If you want to sell firearms and/or ammunition for them, privately or commercially, you will register that weapon and sale with the ATF. 

If you sell a gun to anyone without a background check, you lose your license, forever. If you do not have a license, you lose all of your own firearms. 

If the person purchasing the firearm commits a crime with that weapon, your inventory or personal collection should be auctioned to pay damages; the resulting moneys and your personal savings should go to the victim(s) while you serve the same sentence as the perpetrator of the crime. If the criminal dies in the commission of that crime, or afterwards, you serve their sentence and your own, consecutively. 

Gun manufacturers should be not be immune to lawsuits, but only for a malfunction of the product, and then only by the spouses and direct family members (mother, father, and siblings). 

Any lawyer bringing a class action lawsuit must do so for free. 

Any lawyer filing more than two appeals for a murder or rape charge with three or more credible witnesses for the prosecution should do so for free, and share the sentence if the third appeal is denied.

Anyone found guilty of  rape or murder, when there are three or more credible witnesses for the prosecution, should go directly from court to the electric chair after failing their third appeal. 

We don't need anyone who wants to build a wall like the one El Chapo tunneled under with no problem whatsoever. And if you want Mexico, one of the poorest countries in the world, to pay for it, or you will start increasing the cost of entering the country legally, you are a special kind of moron who should not be allowed to visit, much less inhabit the White House. 

We don’t need to feed a single foreign child, induct tens of thousands of refugees, or grant citizenship to millions of illegal aliens while veterans sleep in the gutter, and children born in the U.S.A. go to bed hungry. 

Any company that makes its products in this country and does business in this country needs to pay taxes to this country proportional to profits taken from sales in this country.

Any company declaring bankruptcy will not pay bonuses or stock dividends to executives or shareholders, until all financial obligations to the employees have been fulfilled. 

Any company that outsources jobs needs to pay additional taxes proportional to the percentage of its U.S. workforce reduction. 

The president and chief corporate officers of any corporation that bails on cleanup of a mine, plant, or other toxic waste site need to be given the choice of living on that site and working on the cleanup for free or being placed in a maximum security prison. Biological warfare is a crime against humanity. 

Anyone who dumps anything into the ground or into the rivers in or on our public lands should be given the choice of the same prison sentence above or eating a pound of the dumped substance. If you live, you are free to go live in any other country and will have twenty-four hours to walk there. After that, it’s open season, with a year of tax amnesty for the citizen who brings in enough of you to identify. 

We do not need to pretend that you can give millions of people anything for free, while actually raising taxes, not on the rich, but on the middle and lower income citizens of this country. 

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. 

Nor do we need anyone who will allow one group of people to use a word as slang or for profit that none of the rest of us can use without it being a federal crime. 

If you don't have ovaries, maybe you should just shut up about a woman's reproductive choices. If you do have ovaries and chose not to use them, or used them more than thirty years ago, ditto. 

(BTW, since as many single mothers-to-be choose to give birth as don't, that whole "Jesus would have been aborted" line is pure emotional BS, okay?) 

You cannot be pro-life and pro-war. Just sayin’... 

Anyone who loves someone enough to want to spend their life with them should be allowed to marry that person.

Anyone not wishing to perform such ceremonies should not be subject to lawsuit or harassment. 

Any business that does not wish to serve the public, regardless of race, creed, or sexual orientation, is welcome to find another country in which to do business.

Anyone who cannot or will not tell you where their campaign money comes from should not be allowed to run for President. 

Any church that preaches politics loses its tax-free status retroactively, back to the founding of that particular church. 

Any politician who uses religion as a qualifying attribute for election to office must become a missionary upon leaving that office, forfeiting all Secret Service protection and retirement salary.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

One More From the Road: Stepping In It, Again

I have, in recent months, been doing my very best to be accepting of my friends' dogs when they show up at the crag.

For my troubles, I have been growled at on a trail I built, under a climb I bolted, and have had to repeatedly avoid (and clean up) piles of dog poo left in the middle of the trail/belay area when the owners and their pets were well on their way back to the parking lot.

(Yes, I am probably talking about you...)

I appreciate my friends, all of them, whether new or old, young or aged like myself. Anyone who will put up with my cranky old ass is a treasure I do not lightly discount.

And I love dogs, as anyone who has seen me around their pets OUTSIDE OF THE CRAG, will tell you.

But I know a few things, as well;

Dogs travel, on average, seven times as far as a human in the same period of time. Which means seven times as much impact on trails.

You can't MAKE a dog friendly; they either are or they are not, and that is a pretty much lifelong trait.

You can't keep most dogs from pushing past people on the trail, or herding people together, which endangers people with mobility issues, like my wife, a recovered stroke victim with Multiple Sclerosis.

And telling me it is a 'good pup' while it is hackled up, barking and/or growling at me or my wife, or both, is self-delusion at its finest.

Just how many climbers (you know: humans capable of belaying, administering first aid and/or assisting in a Search and Rescue scenario), would you accept, and just how much would you defend their rights (you know, the ones guaranteed under the Constitution and Bill of Rights?) if they left a big, stinking pile of crap in the middle of the trail and/or belay area?

I will continue to agree to disagree, and tolerate dogs at the crags, because anything else is pointless until the Access Fund admits that there is no way to simultaneously bring a dog to the climbing area and practice Leave No Trace.

But I do hope that, perhaps, dog owners could try to see just a bit of our perspective, as well; your pets' 'rights' impact our trails, water quality and wildlife, while negatively affecting our ability to enjoy the crags.

Monday, October 12, 2015

One More For the Road: Not a Trace

My wife and I have been living and working in Elevenmile Canyon, just off Route 24, acting as campground hosts and front booth staff in the Pike national forest outside Lake George, Colorado.

Every week, all week long, scores of climbers, climbing guides, and their clients pour through the gate, many of their vehicles sporting Access Fund stickers.

Boulder, Colorado, the corporate home of the Access Fund, is two and a half hours away, three at the most.

There is not a single established trail leading to any of the dozen crags inside and surrounding the canyon.

There has not, this year, been an Adopt-A-Crag in Elevenmile, nor is there any sign that there has been one since before the fires of 2012.

My fellow campground hosts and employees had never heard of such a thing, save some efforts by Colorado College to shore up the canyon's two hiking trails, one of which is a prime climbing access highway that sees little or no climber maintenance.

The pretty much unanimous sentiment in the local community and among the service personnel of the several government and private agencies that administer this land is that climbers leave trash and impact while trying to camp without paying, which is when they usually abandon burning fires; either that, or while arguing about leashing their dogs and paying the day use fees 'because we came in at night'.

So keep sending in that $100 every year, although I think that's pretty steep for a bumper sticker and T-shirt, if you've got it, flaunt it.

It's obviously doing a lot of good in the AF's home state; how about yours?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Other roads, other worlds

No rants, no politics, just pictures, videos and stories of friends, climbs, places we've discovered and trails we've walked.

Tales From a Gypsy Campfire

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Happy trails

That's it, campers.

End of the song, last bow, final curtain call.

Two weeks in the desert have driven home some reminders, while others lay patiently waiting along old trails, long forgotten, overgrown by manzanita, shaded by yucca and guarded by groves of cholla and weathered oaks.

There is nothing more to say.

It's been a long and winding road, some of it light, much of it dark, often rocky and uphill, in storms.

I've advocated responsibility and put my own hands and resources to the task of caring for the places I've developed and discovered.

I've tried to pass that vision along, and to advocate for the climbers of the world to do the same; to preserve and protect our heritage of non-commercial independence and day-to-day environmentalism, to accept that for every freedom, we inherit a dozen responsibilities.

I've watched a generation come out of the gyms, with urban sensibilities and a city-dweller's earnest, clueless approach to the forest and the world beyond the magazine articles, with the latest gear in their packs and the media-hyped, corporately-sponsored causes of the day on their lips.

Some have taken up the torch, put their hands to work and their money where their mouths are.

Most have not.

Long past time to admit the truth.

There is no winning this argument; the deck is marked, the dice are loaded, the house is crooked, and the other players are not showing all their cards, while the very best, among whom I cannot be counted, are carrying the fight, albeit against strong odds, to an enemy who cannot be quickly or easily defeated, not without severe and in the end fatal concessions.

Nothing we can say or do or tell ourselves can change this, short of a complete replacement and overhaul of the way business is done, in the United States Congress and the White House.

As well as among climbers and their organizations.

Take a good hard look at how much your advocates and groups, organizations and icons value your input and opinions, how much credit is given to the members and the climbing community, when compared to the constant  linking of every new "campaign" and "educational program" and "pact" to some corporate source or another.

Here's a clue- if you don't know everything they're doing, you don't know everything they're doing.

Get it?

Some of that is probably for everyone's good, and some of that just might run completely counter, whether by design or not, to everything the members pay for and the mission statement they were sold.

Old news, I know; 'though down this road we've been so many times', etc.

There are good people, some truly great people, some of whom used to be friends, many of whom still are, putting up new lines, taking care of trails and anchors, and getting to know all the not-quite-so-lost and no-longer-quite-so-secret places of Smoke Hole and the surrounding crags of West Virginia.

Some of them even give the Access Fund grief, when the Fund deserves it, just for fun, and to make an ornery old man smile.

There are also a contingent of elite professionals who give back very little to the places where they earn a living, unless you count trespass and exponential impact as a contribution.

I have been waiting for the Regional Coordinator to admit  that he doesn't want to do trail work or coordinate anything more complex that the next Chilifest, for years now... and every year, the advocates give him their stamp of approval, with no clue how the locals upon whose land he and his employees have trespassed feel about them or the organization they represent.

This month, I spent two weeks watching the clusterfoxtrot that is and will continue to be the fight for Oak Flat, I saw good people as well as a lot of folks with very private agendas trying to make their way through that maze.

I thank you all and I wish you well. I will continue to support the fight for as long as it lasts.

We hiked old trails, found a lot of new things and re-discovered some others. I spent a lot of time laughing and remembering with my wife, recalling the good points and bad in our journeys, many of both found here in the crags and along the plateau of Gaan Canyon and Oak Flat.

We reaffirmed our faiths, our determined commitment to speak the truth as we see it and live as we must to be free. We started some new ideas and let go of some things.

This is one of the things I am letting go.

I spent a lot of time, over the last three or four months, in thought about my beginnings, about the sport I knew, and I looked back at the slow decline of climbing from a passion and obsession among oddballs and outcasts, a discipline, the most useless of arts, carried on far from the madding crowd, a dream of measuring yourself against something more, now awakened to a live streaming debacle that celebrated every detail of a middle class white American team, both of them basically raised to climb rock, funded by every major manufacturer of gear and shamelessly sold by every form of climbing media, ascending a decades-old aid line while the same climbing press and supposed community, and the world, almost completely ignored the fact that the Federal government is, for the first time in history, giving National Forest Lands, sacred to the San Carlos Apache, to a foreign corporation.  

I'm sorry, but maybe I'm just dense; is there actually something more important in the way of access issues than a corporation, three greasy state reps, and a has-been Presidential wannabe using midnight politics to force this country to trade traditionally-used public lands and allow a form of mining that will, within a few decades, render it forever off-limits to all human life, potentially obliterating historic landmarks, while using more water than nearby towns and poisoning the Queen Creek community, all without benefiting Superior, Arizona, or America in any long-term, proven way?

I have beaten my head against this wall for too long. I said things that have offended major celebrities of the sport, and perhaps I have, from time to time, leaped far beyond the boundaries of good taste.

(Bobbi, I was always a huge fan, really. I was just following John Sherman's lead... seems to be the popular thing to do.)

To me the answer is obvious, and I cannot, I will not accept that there is any other way that the question can or need be phrased.

Do you support and defend the right of Americans to climb on, to keep and enjoy their public lands, or will you dine with the Devil?

Best bring a long-handled spoon.

I'll leave you to it.

Happy trails.

West Virginia to Colorado to Arizona: The Gypsies Spend A Week at Oak Flat

Crossing into New Mexico via Raton Pass; miles of rock, and no one climbing.

Winter weather gilds the desert

Sunset Point, on the way south from Flagstaff to the Valley of the Sun

"Don't think we're in Kansas, any more, Toto."

Upper and Lower Gaan Canyon, from the Northern plateau